Democratic presidential candidate Kirstin Gillibrand wants to expand Social Security to people living in the United States illegally.
“First, we need comprehensive immigration reform,” the 2020 hopeful and New York senator said during a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa. “If you are in this country now you must have the right to pay into Social Security, to pay your taxes, to pay into the local school system and to have a pathway to citizenship. That must happen.”
Gillibrand’s comments are striking given her past as an immigration hawk. In 2009, the New York senator voted to increase funding for ICE and once said she believed English should be the official language of the United States.
Under current U.S. law, only legal immigrants are entitled to Social Security benefits after paying into the program for the requisite amount of time.
According to a 2010 analysis by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, the program’s trust fund is expected to be exhausted by 2037. Social Security either has or is expected to soon begin paying out more in benefits than it earns in revenues.
Gillibrand is currently near the bottom of the Democratic pack in most primary polls nationally.
During a televised town hall event with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Monday, Gillibrand solidified her reversal on the issue of immigration, telling the audience that “there is no such thing as an illegal human” and said immigrant was not “a security issue.”
“Because the truth is, everyone knows that diversity is a strength no matter where you go in this country, because they see it. So I would just remind them about why immigration — and our story as Americans — shows that our strongest and best moments are when we welcomed immigrants and our lowest and darkest moments are when we did not, and remind people how important immigration is,” Gillibrand said.
Story cited here.